You’ve always thought of making money from blogging. But should you do it?
Somewhere deep down inside, your gut keeps telling you that you can turn your readers off by trying to make money from them.
The thing is, you know the extra money really helps.
It will let you pay off your debt faster, bring in extra income each month and maybe even allow you to quit the soul-sucking job that you loathe so much.
So, is there a balance where you’re able to monetize your blog and still keep your loyal visitors?
The answer is a resounding YES, there is.
In this article, I’ll show you how to make money blogging without angering or turning off your readers. I’ll guide you through choosing the best way to monetize your blog, how to do it and when to do it as well.
Are you ready?
Should You Monetize Your Blog?
Today, most people who start a blog see it as a way to make money. In fact, it’s seldom that you’ll find anyone who runs a blog just for the fun of it.
One of the reasons for this is that blogging has evolved into a legitimate and reliable way to earn extra income online. Plus, you can do it anywhere.
… And, there’s very little barrier to entry.
All you need is a computer, an internet connection and you’re just about ready to go.
But, whether it’s to supplement your current income or to replace your entire salary from your 9 to 5 job, blogging allows you to work on your own terms.
That said, you’ll still find a few people who start blogs as a way to express their creativity with no intention to make money from their website.
While it may seem like there should be a right and wrong answer to whether you should start making money from your blog or not, there actually isn’t.
It all comes down to YOU. That is,
- Do you want to make money from your blog?
- Or, did you ever plan on making money from your blog?
If your answer to either of the questions is YES, then there’s a more important question you should be asking yourself.
- What are the best ways to monetize my blog?
- How do I monetize my blog without putting off my readers?
- When should I start monetizing my blog?
At the core of these questions is: “How can you make money from blogging that will benefit your readers?”
Doing so makes it a win-win situation for yourself and your blog’s visitors.
So, if you honestly believe that the answer to that question is YES, then, by all means, start monetizing your blog.
If not, you may want to rethink your overall strategy a bit more before starting to monetize your blog.
Will Monetizing Your Blog Turn Off Readers?
The short answer is, NOT NECESSARILY.
The reason I say this is because there’s a right and wrong way to make money blogging.
If you do it correctly, then you’ll not only earn extra cash from blogging but also help your readers along the way.
… And, for that, they’ll not only appreciate you but will also LOVE you!
Yes, you read right…
They’ll LOVE YOU for it!
But, if you do it incorrectly, you’ll quickly drive away your visitors. Or, at the very least decrease the amount of return traffic coming to your blog.
More importantly, there’s a fine line between the two.
To better understand how to monetize your blog so your readers will still love you, it’s important to get familiar with the different ways you can earn money from blogging first.
From there, it will be much easier to see:
- What kind of monetization techniques are best for your blog
- Why some forms of blog monetization methods are better than others
- And, how you go about making money from your blog can make your audience love you or start avoiding your website.
Ways to Make Money from Your Blog
Here are the most popular ways blogs make money. They’re also the monetization techniques I recommend for beginner bloggers.
The reason I do is that they’re easy to implement.
And, they’re very effective when done properly.
This way you don’t need to wrack your brain overthinking the what and the how.
Just do them…
More importantly, learn how to execute them correctly.
1. Display Ads
You’ve probably seen a lot of these while reading your favorite websites. And, in all likelihood, don’t like them that much.
Display ads or simply ads are advertisements that reside on your blog or website.
These ads can appear almost anywhere, including at the top of your site, in the middle of an article and in your blog’s sidebar.
Ads can appear as text, images or as a combination of both.
They’re a kind of online paid advertising that lets you earn extra cash by “renting” space on your blog for advertisers to attract visitors.
So, when readers on your blog click on these ads they’re taken to the advertiser’s website.
In return, you’ll get paid a certain amount for each ad that visitors to your blog click on.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is the web’s version of referral marketing.
That is, if you refer one of your readers to buy someone else’s products.
… In return, that person or company will give you a share of their revenue, which is more often than not, called commissions.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to become an affiliate for Amazon or Walmart.
- After you sign up for their affiliate program, you’ll be able to start promoting some of their products on your site. This can be anything from baby toys to shoes. Basically, whatever the merchant is willing to offer as an affiliate product, you can promote.
- When a reader clicks on the product’s link in your blog, they’ll be taken to the merchant’s website. In particular, the product’s page where they can purchase the item.
- If the visitor decides to buy something and pays for the item, you earn an affiliate commission. This happens every time the visitor you refer to the merchant’s website purchases something from them.
It’s worth noting that affiliate earnings can vary significantly…
Some only pay 1-3% while others will offer you up to 70% of the price of the item.
That’s a huge difference!
- In the first scenario, you make $1 to $3 for each item you refer assuming that the product costs $100.
- In contrast, the second scenario lets you make $70 for the same $100 item you refer.
In general, affiliate marketing is somewhat similar to display ads in that the merchant rents out space on your blog that will allow potential buyers to reach their site and buy something from them.
But, the main difference between the two monetization methods is that in order to earn a commission with affiliate marketing, you’ll need your blog’s visitors to actually buy something from the merchant’s website.
… That makes affiliate marketing a bit harder than ads.
So, to make it worth your while, affiliate marketing payoffs (commissions) are higher than the amount you’ll often make from ads.
3. Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts are another way of making money from your blog. Basically, they’re a type of promoted post.
Here’s how it works.
A company or brand may approach you to enter into a sponsored post agreement. The terms vary depending on what both of you agree upon.
That said, what ultimately happens is the company or brand will pay you to write a blog post. In return, you’ll mention their product or service in the post.
So, in a way, sponsored posts are very similar to advertisements.
But, the main difference here is that you get to decide how you’ll mention the company’s product or service. To do so, you’ll need to negotiate with whoever is looking to sponsor a post on your site.
Because of the back and forth involved, sponsored posts are a bit harder to do compared with display ads. Plus, it takes more time before both parties reach terms that they agree upon.
These terms can include everything from price, the number of posts, who writes the post, how the product and/or service is mentioned, and a whole lot of other things.
4. Sell Your Own Products and Services
I’ve grouped three items here because they’re quite similar to one another. The only difference is what you’re actually selling.
In this type of monetization technique, you’re selling your own product. That is, something you created on your own. It can be anything. But, more often than not, it’s one of these three things.
- An eBook
- A Course
- A Service
In each of these cases, you create something that your readers will want to buy.
This is generally the next step after you’ve done affiliate marketing. The reason being that:
- They’re harder to do because you need to take care of everything involved from start to finish
- You’ve already got experience with affiliate marketing, so you know how to sell to your audience
- Affiliate marketing allowed you to test which products or services your audience will or won’t buy from you. In doing so, you already have proof that what you’re about to create is something your readers like. Thus, allowing you to avoid wasting time in making a product or service that no one will purchase.
As always, it’s not limited to these six monetization methods. In fact, how you make money from your blog ultimately comes down to how creative you are. That’s why you’ll always see people come up with new ways to earn money from their sites each and every day.
Some other popular ways blogs make money are by offering subscriptions and memberships as well as selling their own physical products through an eCommerce store.
That said, the six above are the most common. They’re also ideal for beginners. So, for anyone creating a blog, they’re a good place to start.
How Do You Monetize Your Blog? (Without Turning Off Your Readers)
Okay, now that you know your options, which ones should you use?
First off, it’s important to understand that not all blogs are created equal. As a result, some blogs are easier to monetize than others. But, for almost all blogs, there’s a way to make money from them. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit between you and your readers.
1. Display Ads
Don’t you hate it when a website is loaded with one advertisement after another? I know I do.
That’s the biggest problem with display ads, they’re intrusive. At best, they can be a nuisance. At worse, they’ll get on your nerves.
This is why it’s very important to be careful with them, especially when you’re starting out.
The reason why you need to be extra cautious with display ads, in the beginning, is because you’ll be tempted to slap on a ton of ads on your site in hopes of increasing the amount of money you make each month from them.
This is often the case for most new bloggers, including myself.
- You’re finally seeing some money roll in. So, you get excited and try to maximize it in any way you can.
- You aren’t getting a lot of traffic (yet). And, because increasing blog traffic takes quite a bit of time, you’ll get tempted to try and squeeze out every single ad click from your site’s readers.
As a result, you end up putting up so many ads that it disrupts the reading experience of your website’s visitors. That often leads to two things.
- They won’t be happy with what they see. And, they won’t enjoy reading the article as much as they would have if it didn’t have ads.
- Your blog will look like a big billboard with lots of ads. For some pages, you may even end up with more ads than content.
Whether it’s one or both reasons, you end up losing a return visitor. That is, given the choice, they’re likely not coming back to read what you have to say.
Now don’t get me wrong, ads are a good start for most bloggers. But, advertising really pays off when your blog gets a large number of visitors on a monthly basis.
Calculating How Much You Can Make from Ads
Without going into the nitty-gritty details, here’s a rough estimate of what you can make from putting up ads on your site.
Basically, ad revenue is calculated by using RPM. RPM stands for Revenue per mille. Or, in simple terms, it is how much you can more or less expect to earn for every 1000 views.
If you achieve an RPM of $10 this month and your site gets 100,000 visitors the past 30 days, then you’ll likely earn $1,000 from the display ads on your blog.
Here’s the computation: 100,000 pageviews / 1,000 * $10 RPM = $1,000.
Now we’re talking real money, right?
But, there’s a catch…
RPM swings from month to month. More importantly, it can vary significantly based on a few factors including:
- The niche of your site. Some niches have advertisers who are willing to pay more while other niches just don’t have as much demand. To give you an idea, health blogs often have RPMs of between $10 and $15. Meanwhile, lifestyle blogs can have RPMs of anywhere between $10 to over $20. Arts & crafts do well too, with RPMs that can go over $20 every so often. Travel blogs likewise do well, ranging from $13 to as high as $20 RPM. Of course, these are just based on my own experience, so it can vary for other bloggers as well.
- Your ad network. If you look around, there are tons of ad networks. For most beginners Adsense is the first option, but it doesn’t necessarily offer the highest earning potential. To give you an idea, Adsense ads give you an RPM of between $2 to $5 on the low end. And, up to $5 to $10 on the higher end. This is why I recommend joining premium ad networks when your monthly visitors increase. Two of my favorites are Mediavine and AdThrive. Both ought to give you RPMs that range anywhere from $10 to over $20, depending on the niche you’re in and how you place the ads on your site.
- How often your visitors click on your site. This is called “Click Through Rate” or CTR. It basically tells advertisers how many clicks they’re likely to get for a specific amount of impressions. For example, a CTR of 5% means 5 out of every 100 visitors to your site click on an ad. Generally, the higher the CTR, the higher your earnings will be.
2. Affiliate Marketing
When it comes to affiliate marketing, I’ll split the discussion into two parts. These are:
- The Amazon Affiliate Program
- Other affiliates
Amazon Affiliate Program
The reason I’m doing this is that Amazon is totally different BEAST. And, I mean that in a VERY GOOD WAY.
The biggest advantage of Amazon is that it’s become synonymous with e-commerce. They’ve built up so much trust that people are very willing to buy items from them.
This makes it SUPER EASY to sell their products as an affiliate. All you have to do is send your visitors to their site and they’ll take care of the rest.
You don’t need to do much selling. Amazon pretty much sells itself.
With other affiliates, you’ll need to work a little bit more. This means two things:
- You’ll need to do the marketing or selling yourself. Or at the very least “pre-sell” your reader. That is, to warm them up to buying a certain product.
- You’re not going to get as high conversion rates with them. Conversion rates, in blog-speak, just refers to the percentage of people you send to a product page that actually ends up buying the product. As an example, Amazon Affiliates, when done correctly, easily gets you conversion rates that run from 6% to 15%. Meanwhile, conversion rates of other affiliate products can run anywhere from 2% to 8% or so, depending on what you’re selling and how you’re selling it.
That said, being an Amazon affiliate may not always be the way to go. That’s because of two reasons:
- Low commission rates. Most Amazon affiliate commission rates run from 4% to 8%. Due to recent changes (2017), the bulk of their products go at 4% or 5% commission rates. Meanwhile, other affiliate products, depending on what you choose, can range anywhere from 3% all the way to 70%, with many affiliates offering between 20% and 50% commission.
- It’s getting harder to rank for Amazon products. Because of the competition, it takes more SEO work to rank up on Google for Amazon product keywords. From experience, unless you’re ranking a few keywords in the top 1 to 4 slots or a lot of keywords in the top 10, you’re not going to make a lot of money from Amazon. Maybe a few hundred bucks a month to as high as $1,500. But, if you want to make $3,000 or more per month with Amazon, you’ll need to rank your keywords on Google in one of the two ways I mentioned.
So, the bottom line here is, it’s a numbers game.
- Amazon affiliate program lets you convert at a much higher percentage, ie. more people you send to Amazon will likely buy a product.
- Other affiliate products pay higher. So, even if you don’t convert as much, the higher commission makes up for it.
In either case, you’ll need to do some work.
- With Amazon, the work involves ranking buyer keywords on Google search
- With other affiliate products, it’s building your email list and sending visitors through the proper sequence.
Whichever you decide to focus on, the risk here is trying to “oversell” to your readers. This means:
- Adding too many affiliate links that can make their reading experience annoying.
- Or, sending them too many promotional emails trying to entice them to buy products.
3. Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts are like “ad guest posts”. That means they’re like guest posts by a certain company who’s sponsoring the posts. What makes them a form of advertisement is that they’re paying you to “drop” their brand name or products in the article.
Here, it all comes down to the quality of the sponsored posts.
The good news is, you’ll be able to negotiate with the sponsor. And, if you don’t like what they’re offering, you can easily walk away.
The biggest problem with sponsored posts is the money that’s on the table. That is, it’s easier to give in to the sponsor’s demands if they’re willing to pay a big amount for that sponsorship.
That’s where you come in.
It’s your job to judge whether or not to take these posts.
The goal of which being, earning a good payoff for your time and effort without compromising the quality of your blog to your audience.
4. Selling Your Own Products and Services
Selling your own products and services is much like doing affiliate marketing. So, a lot of the things you need to look out for there applies here as well.
One thing to keep in mind when selling your own products is that most of the people you’ll be selling to don’t know you. Again, in blog-speak, they’re “cold traffic”.
This means they’re more likely to buy your products after they get to know you and what you’re selling.
The trap that you can fall into here is trying to sell them something too soon. That is trying a “hard sell” when they don’t know or trust you that well yet. Or, when they aren’t too familiar with your products or services yet.
When you do so, you become that used car salesman who’s trying to get a jalopy off the block as quickly as possible. Or, that pushy salesperson at the store that keeps annoying you.
Don’t be that guy (or girl)!
When Should You Start Monetizing Your Blog?
Finally, there’s when to start making money from your blog.
Now that you know what kinds of monetization there are and how to properly monetize your blog so as not to piss off your readers, it’s time to see when’s the best time to start earning money from your website.
If you ask most beginner bloggers, they’ll probably say “from Day 1”.
But, that’s not always the best strategy to take.
As with the two previous sections, it all depends on your method of monetization.
So, let’s get to it.
1. Display Ads
At least 100 visitors a day. That comes to about 3,000 visitors per month.
Because display ads rely on traffic, more specifically high traffic volumes if you want to make any substantial earnings from them.
To give you an example, here’s how much you can earn with Adsense and more premium ad platforms like Mediavine and AdThrive.
Here’s a rough Adsense Earnings Calculation Based on 3,000 visitors per month.
- On the low end (RPM of $2): 3,000 monthly views / 1,000 * 2 RPM = $6.00 per month
- Average RPM of $5: 3000 monthly views / 1000 * 5 RPM = $15.00 per month
- On the higher end (RPM of $10): 3000 monthly views / 1000 * 10 RPM = $30.00 per month
That’s not a lot, but it’s something.
And I’ve got no problem with that. But, I do have a problem with human nature.
Once you sign up for ads, you’ll start looking at your stats every day. No kidding. I did it and everyone else I know has done it. It’s just a bad habit that’s inherent in us.
By doing so, you’ll get very tempted to find shortcuts. That is to boost that monthly income in all sorts of ways, even to the point where you compromise your site’s user experience.
That’s not something you want to do. So just don’t!
Trust me, I’ve been there, and it doesn’t really help your blog in the long run.
What about Mediavine and AdThrive?
Yes, both will give you substantially higher RPMs. But, there are two problems here.
Both premium ad networks require minimum views per month. Mediavine requires you to have at least 25,000 sessions a month to get approved. AdThrive is even higher at 100,000 monthly pageviews.
So, until you hit those numbers, you aren’t going to be able to take advantage of their higher payout rates.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Like in the previous section, I’ll split this one into Amazon affiliates and other affiliate programs.
- With the Amazon affiliate program, you can add the links when you create the post. This lets you complete the article and move on to the next blogging task you need to do.
- But, with other affiliate programs, you’ll likely need to build up your email list first. For the most part, having 1,000 subscribers gives you a platform to start with.
When you get to 1,000 subscribers, you can start to promote some products to your email list. This maximizes your chances of earning and reduce the number of times you promote to your list in a given month.
Of course, you can always add affiliate links in your posts right away as well. This will allow you to earn something should someone happen to be a ready buyer of the product.
That said, don’t expect to earn a lot from this method.
What can you expect?
- With Amazon affiliate product links, you can expect anywhere from 30% to 50% click-through rates. That is, if done correctly, visitors who get to pages with Amazon affiliate links are likely to click those links 3-5 out of 10 times. That’s pretty good.
- With other affiliate links, it depends on what the products are, what the article is about, what kind of visitor you’re attracting and where the link is. Often the click-through rates can vary from 2% to 10% with most being at the lower half of that range.
So again, in either case, it’s a number’s game. The more traffic you bring to your site, the more likely you’ll earn something.
This is why it’s always important to keep in mind that blogging is a long-term game. You’ll need to build traffic to your site first before monetizing.
3. Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts work much like ads on TV. That is, there are TV shows and time slots where you’ll see more ads playing. Just as importantly, certain times and events, including primetime and say Super Bowl Sunday, cost a lot more for advertisers.
This same concept applies to your blog and sponsored posts. Basically,
- Companies are going to want to do sponsored posts on your blog only if you have a lot of visitors or social media followers.
- They’ll also choose which blogs to go on because they want one that fits the audience demographics, i.e. your audience matches those who buy their products.
- How much they’re willing to pay depends a lot on how many readers your blog receives.
What does this mean for you?
It’s important to build a following first. This includes the visitors to your blog, the number of followers you have on social media and in some cases, your email subscribers as well.
Companies will also choose niches where their audience or potential buyers are.
Keep in mind that these companies can choose among thousands of blogs that cover your topic. So, it’s your job to make yourself more appealing to your potential sponsors.
The good news is, once you hit a few thousand visitors per month, you can start pitching sponsors.
But, keep in mind that sponsored posts require a lot of work, and if you only have a few visitors, companies will likely be willing to pay you less per sponsored article.
4. Selling Your Own Products and Services
When to start selling your own products and services is pretty much like selling affiliate products. So once again, having 1,000 subscribers in your email list is a good place to start. This lets you learn how to promote to your subscribers while the number is still small.
But, what’s even more important than the number of subscribers is how engaged they are. A small, engaged email list will always make you more money than a large, unengaged email list.
Making money from your blog goes a long way. It helps improve your life financially…
… whether it’s to increase your monthly take home income, work at home and spend more time with your family or allow you to quit your job.
But, it’s important to understand how to properly monetize your blog in order that you don’t turn your readers off.
This will allow you and your readers to both mutually benefit from your efforts.
How do you monetize or plan to monetize your blog?